The decision to divorce is not an easy one. After careful thought, many couples come to the difficult decision to part ways. The divorce process can be excruciatingly painful as families become divided and individuals must navigate the law in obtaining an official divorce. In some cases, there are couples who realize halfway through the divorce process that a breakup of the family is not what they ultimately desire and the path towards reconciliation is forged.
What does reconciliation look like from a legal perspective in Hong Kong? Here are some things to consider when it comes to reconciliation:
1. Legal Ramifications of Reconciliation: If you and your spouse are considering reconciliation during the divorce process, it is important to speak with your solicitor. For example, if you and your spouse are working on your relationship and cohabitate after a separation, this will be important in your divorce as it will be taken into consideration with respect to the separation period. Note that if you and your spouse cohabitate for a period of less than 6 months, then the starting date for the period of separation will remain the same, although the time spent together to work on the marriage will not counted as part of the separation period. Also, when you file a Petition for divorce, you and your solicitor will discuss the issue of reconciliation and you will need to file a Certificate of Reconciliation. If there is a good chance that you and your spouse will reconcile, the Family Court may adjourn your case to allow for the possibility of reconciliation as the Family Court in Hong Kong wants to provide every opportunity for reconciliation. If you and your spouse wish to reconcile during divorce proceedings, you may wish to withdraw the Petition for Divorce. However, speak to your solicitor because if you wish to reconcile after you have obtained a Decree Nisi (tentative court order for divorce), then you must seek leave from the Family Court to rescind the Petition for Divorce which requires specific paperwork that your solicitor can prepare on your behalf and walk you through the process. Remember that if you and your spouse obtain a Decree Absolute, thus legally divorced in Hong Kong, you will now be free to re-marry, even if that means to re-marry one another once again.
2. To Reconcile or Not? Reconciliation is not for everyone. It is certainly a personal decision between you and your spouse. To be effective, both parties must genuinely want to reconcile. Reconciliation also requires effort by both parties to nurture this new relationship. On the flip side, reconciliation may be out of the question if emotional damage by the divorce is so severe and difficult to overcome. If there is a history of domestic violence or emotional abuse or manipulation, reconciliation should be carefully considered with the assistance of psychologists and others trained in the area of domestic violence and emotional abuse. This is particularly important when children are involved.
3. Keep The Lines Of Communication Open: If you hope to reconcile with your ex-spouse, maintain open lines of communication. Try to maintain a sense of civility, if not only for the sake of your children and their best interests. Consider counseling, and do not be afraid to ask your spouse if he/she is willing to attend counseling with you. A counselor can help guide you in the decision to reconcile and help you and your spouse avoid past mistakes in your marriage. You may also learn new skills on how to resolve the issues which led to the divorce in the first place.
Reconciliation should not be taken lightly. It takes significant effort and time. But if successful, it can be a wonderful thing for you and your family.